Friday, June 25, 2010

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner - Review & Giveaway

Genre: Historical Fiction
Copyright: May 2010
Pages: 397
Book Source: Pump Up Your Book

Synopsis: The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protect her family’s throne and realm plunged her into a lethal struggle for power.

The last legitimate descendant of the illustrious Medici line, Catherine suffers the expulsion of her family from her native Florence and narrowly escapes death at the hands of an enraged mob. While still a teenager, she is betrothed to Henri, son of François I of France, and sent from Italy to an unfamiliar realm where she is overshadowed and humiliated by her husband’s lifelong mistress. Ever resilient, Catherine strives to create a role for herself through her patronage of the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and her own innate gift as a seer. But in her fortieth year, Catherine is widowed, left alone with six young children as regent of a kingdom torn apart by religious discord and the ambitions of a treacherous nobility.

Relying on her tenacity, wit, and uncanny gift for compromise, Catherine seizes power, intent on securing the throne for her sons. She allies herself with the enigmatic Protestant leader Coligny, with whom she shares an intimate secret, and implacably carves a path toward peace, unaware that her own dark fate looms before her—a fate that, if she is to save France, will demand the sacrifice of her ideals, her reputation, and the passion of her embattled heart.

From the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the battlefields of the wars of religion to the mob-filled streets of Paris, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is the extraordinary untold journey of one of the most maligned and misunderstood women ever to be queen.

Well firstly, I have a little confession of my own to make; I've looked forward to The Confessions of Catherine de Medici with much anticipation and yes I admit a certain degree of trepidation. C.W. Gortner's debut novel, The Last Queen was one of my favourite reads last year and my favourite historical novel of the year so I confess to an element of fear regarding his new novel ... would it be just as captivating, would it surpass my expectations? (phew, the pressure!) Well I'm ecstatic to tell you that my fears were completely unfounded, I loved The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. It is C.W. Gortner doing what he does best, combining meticulous research & historical accuracy with eloquence, emotion & excitement, to bring us a humanised take on the legend of Catherine de Medici.

Even though I've read a bit about this time frame in history and know of the French Wars of Religion, before reading this novel I knew little about Catherine apart from her part in the St Bartholomew's Day massacre where thousands of Heugenots (Protestants or so-called heretics) were slaughtered.

Catherine is forced into marriage to forge an alliance between Italy & France, wed at age 14 to Henri, the second son of King Francois I of France. Spanning the years 1527 to 1589 we hear in Catherine's voice of her personal & political travails, successes and sorrows, her strange 'bedfellows', her attempts to cultivate tolerance and peace between Catholic & Heugenot, her sacrifices for the good of France and her quest to safeguard the throne for her sons.

Throughout history many have found it easier to believe the stories that vilify & condemn rather than challenge prejudices but this is a portrayal that shows a very human and believable side to Catherine, it doesn't randomly justify her actions but shines a light of understanding on many of her choices, right or wrong.

"It was the price of privilege, of our roles as royal women. Before comfort, before hopes and dreams, our countries must come first."

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici was almost impossible to put down, I found myself immersed in the rich tapestry of history, intrigue and emotion. When a novel takes you on a journey, a journey you want to prolong & savour, when you finish with a sigh because the journey is at an end, when you feel sated with knowledge but inspired to learn more, then I believe the author has done his job brilliantly.

Bravo Christopher, your novels have earned a place on my bookshelf with other favoured historical fiction writers; Dorothy Dunnett, Michelle Moran, Elizabeth Chadwick, Sharon Penman.

Christopher is currently working on The Princess Isabella, a historical novel about Isabella of Castile and The Tudor Secret, the first book in his new Tudor suspense series, The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles to be published January 2011.

You can find out more about C.W. Gortner & his work by visiting his website and blog Historical Boys. While you're there be sure to check out the Q & A about this book.

Thank you to C.W. Gortner & Cheryl of Pump Up Your Book for my copy of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and for allowing me to participate in the tour.

Click on the title to see my review of C.W. Gortner's first book The Last Queen.


I am thrilled to be able to offer readers a chance to win a copy of The Confessions Of Catherine de Medici thanks to the generosity of C.W. Gortner. Christopher will personalise the UK copy of his novel and post to the winner. Open internationally - woohoo!!


Competition is only open to followers of this blog. (so if you're not a follower & you'd like to enter just click on the follow button on the right hand side of my blog - easy peasy)

Leave a comment with an email address to be entered in the giveaway

+ 2 comment on C.W. Gortner's fascinating guest post and let me know.
+ 2 post this giveaway on your blog, sidebar, twitter etc & leave me a link

Competition ends Friday July 9th and winner will be announced on this blog. Good luck to all!


  1. I am a Follower via Google.

    I have read a number of good reviews on this book and I have enjoyed Gortner's previous books so I would love to add this to my bookshelf.

    Thanks for opening the giveaway to worldwide entries.

    Much appreciated.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  2. ive never read any of his books would love a chance to read this awesome post

    im a follower

  3. Thank you so much for making the giveaway international!

    I'm a follower
    I commented on guest post


  4. OOh would love to be entered for this. I have read such fabulous reviews of it. I am already a follower.

    Don't worry too much about visiting everyone, we all know you have had a rough time of late and we look forward to having you back full time when you are ready. Big hugs.

  5. I love reading historical fiction but I've to admit that I've never come across one with setting as this one. Pretty unique and it certainly picked my interest. I wonder though if this is the continuation from the first book by the author? Or it is a stand alone?

    Thank you so much, Teddyree, for this giveaway!

    Extra entries:
    +2 Comment on guest post
    +2 Tweet:


  6. Like you, I read and loved The Last Queen, and have been looking forward to this novel. Thanks, to you and to Mr. Gortner, for the giveaway.
    I am a follower through Google Reader.
    +2 I commented on the guest post


  7. Thanks for hosting Christopher during his virtual book tour. I loved your review. Readers will find an excerpt on his website In addition, there is an excellent video interview of Christopher talking about Catherine de Medici for all history lovers.

    Thanks again for the wonderful review.


  8. I would love to win this. Thanks for the chance.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  9. Don't enter me, but I loved it, too! And thanks for the head's up on his next work!

  10. This book sounds fascinating. I read The Last Queen last year and loved CW Gortner's storytelling.

    +2 commented on the guest post
    +2 tweeted about the contest here:


  11. I wanted to read this one based on the cover alone and then your stellar review and 5 stars has me very excited to get my hands on this book!!

  12. I would so love to read this one!

    stacybooks at yahoo

  13. Fantastic Sheree...really....your review has psyched me more than I already was about reading this book.

    You said:
    "It is C.W. Gortner doing what he does best, combining meticulous research & historical accuracy with eloquence, emotion & excitement, to bring us a humanised take on the legend of Catherine de Medici."

    I! This is most definitely going to be read in the next few months.

    I follow your blog (of course)
    I commented on C.W. Gortner's guest post
    I tweated about this giveaway


  14. I'm a follower, count me in!

  15. I would love to win my own copy of this book! Fantastic review, I can't wait to read it.

  16. I would love to win a copy of this book!

    I'm a follower.


  17. This sounds like an absolutely fascinating novel Teddyree. I remember your post about Mr. Gortner's previous work. I would love to be included in the draw.

    Thank you both.

  18. Thank you for your passionate review, Sheree. I'm always honored to count you among my readers and to visit as part of my tour. I hope your readers enjoy Catherine de Medici's confessions and best of luck to everyone with the giveaway!

    With my warm regards,

  19. No need to enter me, already have and read it. I too loved this book. I haven't read The Last Queen - it's on my shelf and has moved up the list since reading Confessions. I just love the way he can really take someone downtrodden by history and show the more human side to them. Thanks for the review!

  20. Hi, I'm an old follower!

    +2 Twitter (


    I enjoy historical fiction so thanks for the giveaway! :)

  21. Shy ~ this is a stand-alone novel but historical figures are recognised from The Last Queen and other historical fiction novels I've read.

  22. Cheryl ~ I watched the video clip after reading the book, it was great, really interesting and I found the comments alluding to the "threesome" quite amusing!

  23. I'd love a shot at this one. Please count me in. Thank you!

    +2 Blogged:

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  24. Please enter me!!

    I'm a follower


  25. I'm a stalker, yo! XD thanks for the awesome international giveaway!

    royce_a13 @

  26. I follow your blog through Google Reader.

    +2 for comment
    +2 for blog (will be up at Historical Tapestry in the next lot of HT News to be posted)

  27. I'd love to read this book! I'm a follower.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  28. I tweeted:

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  29. Wonderful review Teddy. No need to enter me. Glad this book was all that you thought it would be. It stinks when books don't live up to you expectations.

  30. I would love to read this-I follow

    chocolate and croissants at yahoo .c om

  31. I commented on the guest post.

    chocolate and croissants at yahoo .c om

  32. Here is my tweet

    cococroissants Confessions of Catherine De Medici

  33. Catherine de Medici is definitely one of the most influencial women in history. I would love to read thi book.[@]gmail[.]com

    + 2 I commented on C.W. Gortner's guest post.
    + 2 I tweeted

    and posted to my sidebar

  34. I'm a follower and I would love to win this book!
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  35. I commented on the guest post about there being a lack of undergarments! lol
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  36. I follow through GFC

    + 2 commented on guest post

    The book sounds great and the cover is simply gorgeous. I love nice covers!! Thanks for making it open for overseas readers. Much appreciated.


  37. Thank you for entering me. I follow through google reader.
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  38. This book sounds really good. I would love to win.
    amandarwest at gmaildotcom

  39. Tweeted.
    amandarwest at gmaildotcom

  40. I reviewed this for Historical Novels Review. It is and will be one of my favorites for 2010. I have an ARC copy, but I would love to acquire a finished book.

    I will tweet your contest and I am a follower on NetNewsWire. :)

    tekeygirl at gmail dot com

  41. I'd love this. Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  42. This looks fantastic! Thanks for the info and I would love to be entered!

    journey through books @

  43. I commented on the guest post and wow - I really enjoyed learning about Catherine!

    journey through books

  44. Great giveaway!

    I'm a follower via Google Friend Connect (avalonne83).

    Please count me in. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

  45. This book has been on my wishlist since i first heard about it. Catherine has intrigued me since reading Dumas' La Reine Margot.

    From reading CW's post, Catherine certainly had an eye for architecture, and has left more of a positive mark on history than than expected.

  46. please enter me in the sounds like a wonderful read to get lost in!

    +1 follower
    +2 comment

    k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

  47. I'm back to let you know that I posted about your contest here.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  48. This book does sound really interesting - I love the historical reads, especially of characters that really existed!

    Email: kiwibooklover at gmail dot com

    +2 Commented on guest post
    +2 Tweeted:

    Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  49. Have read many good reviews on this. I'm a follower; please accept my entry. Thanks!


  50. I look forward to reading "The Confessions of Catherine de Medici". Please include me in this giveaway.
    Thanks ~ megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    GFC follower

  51. Commented on C.W. Gortner's guest post
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

  52. Commented on C.W. Gortner's guest post
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

  53. Please enter me, I'm a follower!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  54. I follow with Google Friend Connect. Please enter me in this giveaway.

    +2 I commented on the guest post.


  55. Competition CLOSED ~ winner announced shortly :-)


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